According to the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) 2013 registration figures, the English Bulldog was the most popular breed in New York City. Bulldogs, unfortunately, were also the most relinquished to animal shelters in the city; last year, more than 300 were surrendered to city animal shelters.
Laurette Richin, executive director for Long Island Bulldog Rescue (LIBR), tells Joanna Prisco of the New York Post, “The English bulldog’s year-over-year increase in popularity fuels the year-over-year increase in the number of dogs we rescue. In 1999, we rescued 13 dogs. In 2013, we rescued 347.”
Richin explains certified breeders are unable to meet the demand for healthy puppies, so a large number of Bulldogs are supplied by overseas breeders, illegal puppy mills, and other sources, which often results in health problems. “The most common issues we see are skin, ear, and eye infections, and elongated soft palates, Richin says. “We’re also seeing more bladder stones and seizure disorders.”
Julia Maria Conway, who lives in Astoria in the borough of Queens, recently rescued her second Bulldog from a Tennessee puppy mill. She tells the New York Post, “Many bulldogs have allergies. You have to wash their folds and clean their ears on a regular basis. Interdigital cysts are common; they can have digestive issues, and bad breeding causes spina bifida.”
Every time a Bulldog winds up at a city shelter, LIBR gets an alert from that shelter. Richin also notes most owners tend to surrender their Bulldogs directly to LIBR. Treatment for many of the illnesses in these dogs can cost up to $900 a year.
Celebrity Beth Stern, an animal rights advocate, model, and wife of famed radio personality Howard Stern, recently held Beth Stern’s Bash for the Bulldogs — a fundraiser to help LIBR. Last year the event raised $70,000.
LIBR works to find forever homes for its Bulldogs, and the volunteers describe the breed as being sweet and gentle.